Indigenous environmental perspectives: Challenging the oceanic security state

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This article centers Indigenous epistemologies to critique the United States oceanic security state, a modality of militarization and blue-washing conservation that extends beyond land borders to encompass federal conceptualizations of national security throughout the Pacific Ocean. Beginning with Indigenous perspectives from Oceania, it provides examples of Indigenous peoples’ continuing connections to ocean spaces and challenges to United States colonial geographic imaginaries and militarized destruction. Then, advancing the concept of the oceanic security state, it examines how United States assertions of sovereignty over Oceania are used to justify hyper-militarization while simultaneously destroying the environment and contributing to the climate crisis. These phenomena occur while the USA remains exempt from federal environmental conservation laws through ‘blue-washing’, and the United States government benefits from the exclusion of military emission data within international climate targets. The findings reveal how militarizing all ocean space in the name of United States national security operates within delineated borders of Exclusive Economic Zones, Marine National Monuments, and Marine Protected Areas. Guided by Indigenous epistemologies, the article concludes with alternative ways of understanding ocean spaces and constructing futures of genuine security.




Na’puti, T. R., & Frain, S. C. (2023). Indigenous environmental perspectives: Challenging the oceanic security state. Security Dialogue, 54(2), 115–136.

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